Understanding your audience
Effective demand generation begins with understanding your target audience. I’ve pulled out a couple of examples of tools and strategies that other large SaaS companies use to do this effectively.
Semrush's approach to competitive analysis and HubSpot's customer-centric philosophy are great examples. These tools not only empower SaaS companies to analyze their competitors' strategies but also guide them in creating content that resonates with their audience on a deeper level.
This can only really be achieved by having a clear understanding of your audience and ideal customer profile.
Semrush is best known for its SEO toolkit, but in this article, I want to focus on its power as a competitive analysis tool.
Semrush allows SaaS companies to dissect the digital strategies of their competitors. From organic search rankings to paid advertising tactics. This deep dive enables companies to identify gaps, strengths, and areas of differentiation in the market.
By identifying the keywords that resonate with your competition’s audience, you can tailor your demand generation strategies to align with what truly engages your audience or differentiates you from your competitors.
HubSpot's inbound methodology puts the customer at the center. They cast a wide net and focus a lot of their attention on early-stage users. You can see this by searching for things like “how to write a business plan” - and most likely finding a template provided by Hubspot.
This methodology aligns perfectly with demand generation, emphasizing the importance of building relationships rather than mere transactions. This is a long-term strategy that might be difficult to employ if you’re an early-stage company.
Other tactics and strategies for understanding your audience
- Perceptual Mapping - A perceptual map allows you to plot where your customers sit on a 2-by-2 matrix. This will draw your attention to where you should focus and where you shouldn’t focus.
- Advertising Spying - Jump onto your competitors’ LinkedIn pages and check out the adverts that are getting the most engagement, this will show you how they market.
- G2 Reviews - Take a look at your competitors’ G2 reviews, you’ll be able to see who is reviewing and peak at the specific individuals. From there you can grab their name and search for them on LinkedIn to find out which company they work for.
Marketing authenticity is more important than ever
Influencer Collaboration for B2B
In B2B SaaS, collaborating with industry influencers adds credibility. This is a growing segment and something you’ll see often on LinkedIn. The shift to influencers in the B2C/DTC space has been followed by B2B brands.
There are a couple of different approaches here, you can partner up with existing individuals or you can ensure that your employees are acting as brand proponents on LinkedIn. In both cases, the focus needs to be on authenticity. People smell an advert from a mile away, so make sure you approach this carefully. By showcasing partnerships with influencers who genuinely endorse your product, you establish authenticity within your target audience.
Really show off your product
Over the last 5 years, the shift toward “Product Led Growth” and “Product Led Sales” has picked up pace. This is driven by more buyers wanting a self-guided, self-paced purchasing journey. They really don’t want to click “Book a demo” or “Schedule a call” without knowing what they’re getting themselves into.
The “explainer video” with animated characters is going out of style, because they lack substance and feel like a dressed up infomercial from years gone by.
Providing interactive product demonstrations, as seen with HowdyGo, allows B2B SaaS companies to demonstrate facts about their products while demonstrating the actual product in-action. This hands-on approach brings authenticity to the forefront, letting potential clients experience the value proposition firsthand.
Customer Success Stories
In B2B SaaS marketing, the practice of sharing real customer success stories holds a central role as it provides tangible evidence of a product's impact on businesses. Companies like Drift and Salesforce have mastered the art of authentic storytelling rooted in actual customer experiences, showcasing the transformative power of their solutions. This approach resonates with potential clients for several reasons.
- Tangible Results: Real customer success stories go beyond abstract claims and marketing slogans. They present concrete, measurable results that businesses have achieved through the use of a particular B2B SaaS solution. Whether it's increased efficiency, revenue growth, or enhanced productivity, these tangible outcomes provide evidence of the product's efficacy.
- Credibility and Trust: Authentic storytelling builds credibility and trust. When companies like Drift and Salesforce share stories of how their solutions have positively impacted businesses, they are essentially offering proof of their reliability. This transparency and openness contribute to building trust with potential clients who seek assurances before making significant investments in a B2B SaaS product.
- Relatable Experiences: Potential clients often look for relatable experiences when considering a new solution. By featuring diverse customer success stories, B2B SaaS companies demonstrate versatility and applicability across various industries and business scenarios. This relatability helps potential clients envision how the product could address their specific challenges and goals.
- Demonstrating Use Cases: Success stories serve as practical demonstrations of a product's use cases. They show how other businesses, facing similar challenges, have successfully integrated the solution into their workflows. This demonstration is particularly impactful for potential clients who are in the evaluation phase and want to understand how the product aligns with their unique needs.
- Humanizing the Brand: Behind every success story are real people with real challenges. By humanizing the brand through these stories, B2B SaaS companies create an emotional connection with potential clients. The struggles, triumphs, and lessons learned in the success stories resonate on a human level, making the brand more approachable and relatable.
- Empowering Clients: Success stories empower potential clients by showcasing how others have overcome hurdles and achieved their objectives with the help of a particular B2B SaaS solution. This empowerment instills confidence in potential clients, encouraging them to see the product as a valuable asset in their own journey toward success.
Engage in Thoughtful Content Marketing
In your content marketing efforts, focus on providing value and insights rather than using promotional language. Thoughtful content contributes to the authenticity of your brand, positioning your B2B SaaS company as a knowledgeable authority.
You can see great examples of this, particularly on Hubspot’s blog and YouTube channel.
Data & Analytics for Demand Generation
You can use data from your marketing tools to understand how your demand generation is performing, but you can also use it as content for demand generation.
Storytelling using your data & analytics
Internal product analytics are powerful storytelling tools that can bring insightful commentary to your target audience. As a marketer working from inside the industry, you’re uniquely situated to provide aggregated data that proves to the market that your company knows exactly what’s going on.
At HowdyGo we’ve used our own data and analytics to understand optimization strategies for our customers. As an example, here’s some of the metrics we follow and share with our customers and prospects to help them iterate and improve their demos:
- Initial Engagement:
Does your opening screen lead to the start of a viewing session? Check first annotation viewing %. If people don’t start the demo, they can’t finish it either. So a curiosity-capturing opening screen is important.
- Drop off points:
Are there particular areas where viewing drops off? This can be caused by steps that are *cough* boring, or if you’re not using our chapter navigation/demo checklist to give people freedom to navigate around.
- Completion rate:
Do people reach the final step of the demo?
If not, the length might need to be reduced. There are a range of ways to reduce demo length. DM me if you would like some tips.
- Section re-views:
55% of people who reach the end of demos will go back to previous sections using the chapter navigator. What are they looking at? Can you change the order around to make this section more prominent.
- CTA clicks:
Are people clicking your CTA? Is the offer compelling enough, does it feel like a natural next step? If you have multiple buttons, what’s the comparative click through?
Assessing demand generation performance using data & analytics
As mentioned above, using data you can assess a variety of elements to demand generation performance. I’ve summarized a few areas below:
User Activity: Salesforce utilizes data on user activity within its platform. Metrics such as logins, feature usage, and time spent provide a comprehensive view of customer engagement, enabling data-driven decisions for enhancing user experience.
Customer Feedback Analysis: Salesforce incorporates customer feedback metrics, including surveys and support interactions, to understand satisfaction levels. This data-driven approach guides improvements and reinforces authenticity through responsive customer engagement.
Influencer Reach: HubSpot assesses the impact of influencer collaborations by measuring the reach of content shared by influencers. This data helps in evaluating the effectiveness of influencer partnerships in reaching the target audience.
Audience Engagement: Metrics related to audience engagement, such as likes, shares, and comments on content promoted by influencers, contribute to understanding the authentic impact of these collaborations.
Content Performance Metrics: Analyzing metrics like views, engagement, and shares for different content pieces provides insights into what resonates with the audience. This informs content creation strategies aligned with authentic audience preferences.
Persona-Centric Content: Data on customer profiles and preferences guides the creation of persona-centric content. This ensures that content resonates authentically with the target audience, addressing their specific needs and challenges.
Iterative Content Optimization: Regularly assessing content performance metrics allows B2B SaaS companies to iteratively optimize their content marketing strategies. This data-driven iterative approach ensures authenticity by aligning content with evolving audience preferences.
Long-term Customer Success
To create an environment where demand generation can succeed, you need authentic customer stories to punch through. The only way this can be achieved is through long-term customer success. By fostering relationships with your customers, you open up multiple demand-generation opportunities, whether that’s through referrals, customer stories, or simply the fact that people move between jobs.
Is it a strategy to focus on customer success as a marketer? It can be.
Building a relationship with your customer success team, identifying which new customers might perfectly fit your ideal customer profile and ensuring that they have a fantastic experience as a company will yield more opportunities for you than just about any other work you do.
This kind of strategy requires a top-down mentality from your leadership team, but you can create this focus by establishing its importance.
Leverage webinars and events
Participating in webinars and events is a key element of B2B SaaS marketing. These platforms serve as opportunities to demonstrate expertise and share valuable insights, establishing authenticity through the delivery of genuine value to the audience.
HubSpot engages in webinars and events to share insights on inbound marketing and sales. By offering practical advice and industry knowledge, HubSpot establishes authenticity through the provision of valuable content during these sessions.
Salesforce utilizes webinars and events to showcase its CRM solutions. By providing in-depth insights into effective customer relationship management, Salesforce reinforces authenticity, demonstrating a commitment to delivering valuable information to its audience.
Effective SaaS demand generation hinges on a comprehensive understanding of the target audience and the strategic deployment of tools and tactics. Semrush's competitive analysis and HubSpot's customer-centric philosophy exemplify approaches that empower SaaS companies to tailor their strategies to audience preferences and market differentiators. The rise of influencer collaboration, emphasis on product-led growth, and the use of real customer success stories underscore the importance of authenticity in building credibility and trust.
Thoughtful content marketing, data-driven analytics, and the focus on long-term customer success contribute to the authenticity of B2B SaaS companies. Leveraging webinars and events, exemplified by HubSpot and Salesforce, further establishes authenticity by providing valuable insights and expertise to the audience.
Ultimately, the success of demand generation relies on a holistic strategy that incorporates diverse tactics, all rooted in a genuine understanding of the audience and a commitment to delivering authentic value.